One of the great advantages of implementing a Hosted VoIP Phone Service is that it can be customized to match the needs of the business. There are a variety of standard items that should be customizable in any VoIP phone solution. The right hosted VoIP provider can serve in a consultative manner to discern how those items should be programmed to meet the business requirements. Great providers can take customization to another level and have your system do things to delight your associates and customers.
As you compare providers, be mindful that some provide “do-it-yourself” web portals. These are great for routine administration, but higher level customization requires a provider that is willing to create the program and able to understand the business application. At sipVine, a mid-western based national hosted VoIP provider, we made a strategic decision to provide as much customization as possible. Robert Conner, sipVine’s CEO, states: “Frankly, custom programming to specific customer needs doesn’t fit well in a mass-volume, high-margin approach. However, we believe that customers will become long-term, loyal fans if you position yourself as their personal phone department. We have the technological talent to be able to do some great things with the software, so our customer should be able to reap the benefits!”
There are some customizable aspects of VoIP systems that are table stakes for any hosted VoIP service company, whether it is from a provider like sipVine or from someone who provides a web portal for option setting. These should include the following:
- Call flow direction – ring groups
- Time of day routing
- Automated attendant options
However, there can be some cool things your system can do if you choose the right provider. Here are a few examples of custom programming in which sipVine has provided to their customers:
- Dynamic on-call programming – there have been several customers who deploy a varied on-call schedule through a selection on their after-hours auto attendant. They are simply able to punch in some codes on their phones that select the specific person or ring group they want to be on-call for the day or period.
- Multiple caller ID delivery – some companies have multiple subsidiaries or brands they represent. sipVine can fix a specific caller ID being delivered by various associates, and provide the ability to deliver different caller IDs depending certain outside line access selections.
- E911 notification – one of sipVine’s customers requested a central notification process if a phone in their context dials 911. This is unique and important to their application. If a 911 is dialed from phone on their network, a central phone is immediately notified with an audible message and email notice is delivered to designated parties.
Colin Wells, sipVine’s CTO expands, “We have built quite a number of custom applications for customers that we have since rolled out as standard options. The best ideas for new capabilities definitely are born out of real world applications. We haven’t figured out how to get the phones to empty the trash, but we can certainly automate a notification to a phone that it is time to empty the trash! In all seriousness, there are even more custom programs that occur behind the scenes that most people don’t know about, like security scripts and automated setting back-ups. We think they are cool, but our customers are not aware of them. They just know that they are in good hands.”
There are a number of choices out there for a hosted phone service provider. As you conduct your research, see which providers are “quote driven” and which ones want to know about your business and how you utilize the phones. That will give you a pretty good idea as to how they will service you going forward.
About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of digital phone solutions and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.